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Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington Emerge at WR

Posted Aug 10, 2014

With veterans Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd sidelined with minor injuries, two first-year 49ers have caught the eye of 49ers coordinator Greg Roman.


 
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – It looks like new 49ers receiver Stevie Johnson has raised his level of play over the past week.

Our suspicions were confirmed by San Francisco's offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

“There’s no doubt," Roman said after Johnson turned in another successful day at the 49ers joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens.

With Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd working through minor injuries, there's more passes going Johnson's way. Roman agreed that the former Buffalo Bills receiver, whom the 49ers acquired via trade after day one of the 2014 NFL Draft, is developing greater chemistry with San Francisco's play-making quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"Every meeting, every practice, guys are getting a little bit more synced up," Roman said. "I think we all say that we’re far from a finished product and we’ve got a lot more work to do though.”


The same can be said for fourth-round draft pick Bruce Ellington. The University of South Carolina product was hampered by an ankle injury to start camp, but he returned to action quickly and has been standing out each day.

"He gets better every day, more confident every day," Roman said. "And again, when something isn’t quite right we get it fixed and he gets it fixed and then you move on from there.

"That’s a credit to him."

Ellington has thrown himself into the mix to be San Francisco's starting punt and kick return specialist with the early training camp injury to running back LaMichael James. Ellington has shown he can burst up the field when fielding kicks. Ellington could contribute on offense, too.

"That’s part of the allure of having a guy like that," Roman said.

Ellington did not catch a touchdown on Sunday. Johnson did. So did several other 49ers, most notably Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The veteran receiver and tight end caught 60 and 99-yard scores, respectively.

Roman said the offensive coaching staff has been working in more deep throws in the last four practice scripts. That seemed like the common plan for Sunday's practice against the Ravens.

Overall, Roman said he enjoyed the challenge of facing a respected defense.

"Tempo is very similar to what we’d be doing against ourselves," Roman said, "but we get to do it against a different style of defense and certainly different style of players. Everybody’s working very well together and I think we’re getting a lot out of this."

In particular, the 49ers passing game is facing different coverages against Baltimore's personnel and the team's new contributors like Johnson and Ellington are finding ways to stand out on the practice field with 100-plus talented players around.